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Rock-a-bye, Ute

The writer recalls an Easter weekend with her family after recovering from a stroke. A meditation on home, family, history, and recovery:

The brain strike didn’t kill my faith; my respect for God was not dependent upon good times and smooth sailing. Maybe the oxygen deprivation damaged my ability to deeply believe in anything, or maybe it increased my capacity for believing a little bit in everything, so that God and Jesus now share space on my hard drive with Yahweh or Allah; with Buddha or Mohammad or Krishna, or with the Love, the Light, the Universe. But I no longer have room in my brain for the Devil or his equals; the only real monsters now are old age, poverty, sickness and death—what else is there to fear?

Someone changes the music in the house; now it’s “Smile.” Leaving the cowboys behind for Nat King Cole. Someone is in bad shape today. Or maybe it’s only a prelude to the dance tunes that follow this track on a playlist I’m pretty sure we’ve heard a few times this weekend. I make a mental note: watch for the tapping feet, listen for the fidgety fingertips on the tabletops, and find the one who needs to dance today. I scratch the clipper-shy terrier behind his half-ear, enter the house unnoticed, and shut the door on the Sleeping Ute.

PUBLISHED: Dec. 8, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5926 words)

Brief Encounter with the Household Gods

[Fiction] A daughter talks about her father and his favorite TV Show:

"It's the political woman who's responsible for his new phase. I see him watching her on her TV show. With her husband & her kids, she's traveling around her totally backward state. My dad loves that show. He gets all excited because sometimes she climbs out of their obnoxious vehicle & somebody hands her a rifle & she shoots a dog or a moose. 'This woman's real, Juby,' my dad says. 'You've got to sit down and watch this. This is how women used to be in this country.'
PUBLISHED: March 11, 2013
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1617 words)

What You Will Do

An American on a Fulbright Fellowship in Jerusalem works through his misguided attempts to reconcile the differences between the Israelis and Palestinians. (Ploughshares's Emerging Writer Contest Winner for Nonfiction):

"There is one more layer of security: another soldier behind very thick glass. He will also see your passport and smile. Welcome to Israel, he will say to you, and you will be happy. Once through, you will turn to your friend and say That was the worst and he will agree. You will both shake your heads and imagine what the experience must be like for people who go through this every day, like the old woman with the green headscarf and the many bags. I can’t imagine, you will say to each other, quite truthfully. This comment will seem to you magnanimous and large of spirit. This consideration will allow you to disregard your unmanageable guilt, the futile wrestling over your substantial privilege, the purposelessness of your displeasure in the middle of it all. It will feel as though you deserve to exercise this privilege maybe a bit more than the kind of Americans who might go through and not empathize with the old woman with the green headscarf and the many bags. And besides, you will reason, this state of affairs was not created by you, nor can it be changed by you alone. Your awareness of it, then, will seem particularly admirable. This, again, will help to alleviate your guilt."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 1, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5281 words)

Consequence

In 2007, Eric Fair wrote an article in the Washington Post describing his experience as an interrogator in Iraq. He has had trouble finding a way to move on.

"I tell my professor I am sick. I put away verb charts, participles, and lexicons, board a train for Washington, D.C., and meet with Department of Justice lawyers and Army investigators in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. I disclose everything. I provide pictures, letters, names, firsthand accounts, locations, and techniques. I talk about the hard site at Abu Ghraib, and I talk about the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I talk about what I did, what I saw, what I knew, and what I heard. I ride the train back to Princeton. I start drinking more. Sarah takes notice. I tell her to go to Hell.

"I sit for my final Greek exam in August. It is a passage from Paul’s letter to the people of Thessalonica.
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.
"I am not one of the believers in Thessalonica. I am one of the abusers at Philippi."
AUTHOR:Eric Fair
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2012
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2653 words)